India has been awarded a 'Polio Free' status by way of an official certification presented by the World Health Organisation (WHO). India is among other countries in the South East Asian region which have been certified as being free of the polio virus. India has been polio free since January 2011, as per Mr Ghulam Nabi Azad, Minister for Health and Family Welfare, Government of India.
The healthcare industry is potentially the world's largest industry with total revenues of approximately US$ 2.8 trillion. In India as well, healthcare has emerged as one of the largest service sectors constituting 5 per cent of the gross domestic product (GDP) and offering employment to around 4 million people.
India's primary competitive advantage over its peers lies in its large pool of well-trained medical professionals. Also, India's cost advantage compared to peers in Asia and Western countries is significant - cost of surgery in India is one-tenth of that in the US or Western Europe.
The healthcare sector is growing at a 15 per cent compound annual growth rate (CAGR) and grew from US$ 45 billion in 2008 to US$ 78.6 billion in 2012 and is expected to touch US$ 158.2 billion by 2017, according to a report by Equentis Capital.
India's per capita healthcare expenditure has increased at a CAGR of 10.3 per cent from US$ 43.1 in 2008 to US$ 57.9 in 2011 and is expected to rise to $88.7 by 2015. The factors behind the growth are rising incomes, better access to high-quality healthcare facilities and greater awareness of personal health and hygiene, highlighted the report.
The private sector has emerged as a vibrant force in India's healthcare industry, lending it both national and international repute. The private sector's share in healthcare delivery is expected to increase from 66 per cent in 2005 to 81 per cent by 2015. Its share in hospitals and hospital beds is estimated at 74 per cent and 40 per cent, respectively.
According to data released by the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP), hospital and diagnostic centres attracted foreign direct investment (FDI) worth Rs 12,413.57 crore (US$ 2.02 billion) between April 2000 and July 2014.
Some of the major investments in the Indian healthcare industry are as follows:
The Ministry of Road, Transport and Highways, the Department of AIDS Control and Ministry of Health and Family Welfare have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with an objective of providing HIV preventive services to transport sector workers.
The Central Government has requested the Government of Odisha for allotment of 25 to 30 acres of land for setting up a satellite centre of the All Indian Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) Bhubaneswar as a super specialty healthcare facility.
India and Maldives signed three agreements after delegation level talks between Mr Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom, President, Maldives, and Dr Manmohan Singh, the then Prime Minister of India, on January 2, 2014. The pacts included a MoU on health cooperation.
The Union Cabinet has approved the proposal for setting up of National Cancer Institute (NCI) at a cost of Rs 2,035 crore (US$ 332.62 million). NCI will be set up in the Jhajjar campus (Haryana) of AIIMS, New Delhi. The project is estimated to be completed in 45 months.
Under the Union Budget 2014-15, some of the major initiatives taken by the Government of India to promote the healthcare sector in India are as follows:
The coming years will see great out-of-the-box thinking by the strategists in the field of healthcare, beginning with the way healthcare is delivered.
To begin with, a rise in retail clinics, single speciality, secondary and tertiary care centres are seen coming to the fore including the recent examples of NOVA day care, BEAMS and Apollo clinics.
The tier II/III cities have suddenly become attractive to the healthcare players, especially because of the tax sops and increasing disposable incomes among Indian families across the country and dearth of quality healthcare infrastructure in these locations.
Specially focused on medical tourism, health cities are being designed and executed and hospitals with bed strengths of 1500/2000 which were never heard in the private domain are now coming to light.
Technology will play a major role in bringing quality in healthcare, be it better nursing communication systems, patient monitoring devices or telemedicine to provide low cost diagnosis to remote patients, etc.
Companies like Blackberry, HCL and HP are already investing heavily in healthcare technology and Google trying to ambitiously woo the consumers for a centralised healthcare database. What is in store for the future of healthcare is limitless.
Exchange Rate: INR 1 = US$ 0.0163 as on September 25, 2014
References: Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP), Union Budget 2012-13, RNCOS Reports, Media Reports, Press Information Bureau (PIB)